So, I've been dabbling in prototypes that test the idea of "social combat" - it's like normal combat, except it's not physical. The idea is to introduce the same level of complexity and depth to a social situation as you get in a combat situation in other games.
There have been a few attempts, but they're always pretty bad because they are either foolishly transparent or require some kind of wicked new AI.
Nothing makes this clearer than Oblivion, both with it's insipid social minigame and the fact that the haggling is simply based on your skill level.
It occurred to me:
What if I made all the various techniques and stats related to various logical fallacies?
As I thought about it more, I became convinced it would work. Here's the overview:
The game is a trading game set in ancient somewhere. Egypt. Whatever. The idea is haggling. Various characters have various fallacies they are best at, and at higher skill levels (earned through play), they gain access to special, highly advanced comments of that type.
For example, if one of the characters is a street waif, she might have a specialty of "appeal to pity". She's an expert at making people feel bad for not giving her an excellent deal. As time goes on, she masters various specific techniques that allow her to choose between aggressive and passive approaches, between long-term benefit approaches or short-term approaches. For example, she learns the "tries so hard" technique, where you subtly get a low price, then pay a bit more because you "don't want them to feel pity for you". This technique wouldn't get you a very good deal, but sets up a long-term "hook" that can be used for even better deals at a later time from that same salesman. Depending on the situation, the salesman might decide, then and there, to refuse to take any money at all!
Like most fighting games, each kind of fallacy would have a different "elemental attunement". Appeal to pity, for example, is a simple "emotional" attunement, as is an appeal to ridicule or consequences.
Also, some techniques are better in certain situations. For example, ad hominem attacks aren't terribly useful straight-up. Yelling at the seller or buyer is useless. But you can use it to undermine their argument by insulting the person who gave them their information. It's a defensive technique, see?
Similarly, some techniques can reinforce your own techniques, working in concert. For example, if you're using an appeal to association: "most people like my apples, you'll like them, I'm sure!" You can add in an appeal to authority to give it more weight: "Even the queen likes my apples!" You can add in some ipsedixitism: "And apples are good for you!" plus an appeal to tradition: "Everyone knows that!"
Of course, then your buyer could retort with a bit of motive: "Of course you'd say that, you grow apples for a living!" Then attach some flattery: "It looks like you do a good job of it, too." Then a bit of special pleading: "How about you give me a sample? I've never had one before..."
Now, if the seller is immune to "emotion" damage, he negates both the motive comment and the flattery... but the special pleading is "almost logic", a different element. So a bit might get through...
What everyone wears is also important - specific clothes impart specific bonuses. Some give you some immunity to certain elements, others boost certain elements. Some offer protection against or strength in a certain fallacy type, others might actually only boost a specific technique within a fallacy...
What do you think?